Gateway Regional soccer coaches Steve Estelle, Tim Gamble retire

  • Retired coaches and Gateway Regional alums Tim Gamble, left, ’77, and Steve Estelle, ’74, stand on the soccer field at the high school in Huntington on Thursday. Gamble coached the boys soccer teams for two decades, Estelle coached girls soccer for three. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Retired coaches and Gateway Regional alums Tim Gamble, left, '77, and Steve Estelle, '74, walk around the soccer field at the high school in Huntington on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Gamble coached the boys soccer teams for two decades, Estelle coached girls soccer for three. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Retired coaches and Gateway Regional alums Tim Gamble, left, '77, and Steve Estelle, '74, visit the soccer field at the high school in Huntington on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Gamble coached the boys soccer teams for two decades, Estelle coached girls soccer for three. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Retired coaches and Gateway Regional alums Tim Gamble, left, '77, and Steve Estelle, '74, walk around the soccer field at the high school in Huntington on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Gamble coached the boys soccer teams for two decades, Estelle coached girls soccer for three. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 9/10/2020 4:10:26 PM

Over 50 years of coaching experience have left the Gateway Regional soccer sidelines.

Longtime coaches Steve Estelle and Tim Gamble have retired, leaving behind a legacy of championships and wins for the Gators.

Estelle, head coach of the girls soccer team for the past three decades, retired with seven Western Massachusetts titles, three state finals appearances, 324 career wins and a 2019-2020 MIAA Coach of the Year honor.

Gamble, who coached the boys program for 21 years, left with one Western Mass. title, winning the trophy in 2002.

“For both Tim’s position as well as Steve’s, there are some big shoes to fill. ... The two of them, in many cases, coached the parents of the current players at Gateway,” Gateway Regional Athletic Director Matt Bonenfant said. “Not only did they know the kids that were coming through, but they either coached or taught their parents, which makes it a really special connection.”

For Gamble and Estelle, the bond they share with soccer goes back to when they were in high school.

“Tim and I both graduated from Gateway,” Estelle said. “He was three years younger than me and was a freshman when I was senior.”

Estelle, a resident of Huntington, focused on coaching soccer, but coached several other sports during his teaching tenure.

“There really was not a time that I was not coaching a team,” he chuckled. “I coached girls junior varsity softball in New Hampshire. I was also an assistant coach on the golf team and before I became the coach of Gateway girls soccer, I was the junior varsity baseball coach.”

Gamble has had his share of coaching other teams.

“Between basketball and soccer, I’ve coached over 50 seasons,” he said. “When I moved back to this area in 1987, I bought back into the hype and it really took off from there.”

Gamble, a Springfield College graduate, taught physical education at the elementary school level, being inspired by his coach, Jeff Fisk.

“I worked with Jeff in both soccer and basketball,” Gamble said. “He was a Springfield College grad and it was one of the main reasons that I ended up going to Springfield. Since he handed the reins over to me, I wanted to make sure that I handed the reins over at the right time as well.”

Gamble coached basketball for 19 years, switching between junior varsity and varsity basketball as well as junior varsity and varsity soccer. The most exciting part of Gamble’s job, as he put it, was seeing the kids he taught in elementary school grow up to become men.

“As a high school varsity coach, it’s not about your ego or your record,” Gamble said. “The gratification comes when you get to see what those kids have become.”

Estelle loved teaching kids the beauty of sports.

“I will always miss teaching kids how to compete,” he said. “It’s my greatest passion to teach sports.”

Estelle taught middle school history and retired from the classroom in 2014. Like Gamble, he had an impact on his players and co-workers.

“It always hurts the kids when coaches leave, but that’s the circle of sports. We are most certainly going to miss them,” Bonenfant said.

Gamble retired from teaching on Aug. 28, 2019, a day that was very special to him.

“I got to retire on my birthday. I don’t think many people get to say that, but it was really a special day for me,” he said. “However, I decided to coach one more year because we had built a great team and with all the seniors we had, I felt that after that year, it would be a good time to hang it up.”

Looking back on his seven sectional titles, Estelle fondly remembers the first title he won in 1998.

“It took a lot of fighting from our team that year because we had injuries always happening,” he said. “They played great and looking back on all the division titles I won, you never forget the first one.”

Gamble fondly remembers the 2002 title because of the impact it had for Gateway fans.

“Both us, the boys team, and the girls team, won the same night. We rode the bus back together, we got a parade and to have that all happen in the same year, it was amazing,” he said.

Gamble and Estelle both loved coaching, but both felt it was time to stop. For Estelle, a key factor was a promise he made with his wife.

“We always talked about how 30 years was my line. As I got closer to that timeframe, I really began to think about it,” he said. “It is mixed emotions when you retire.”

For Gamble, the biggest sore spot of retiring was not being able to read his last banquet speech to his team.

“I had just finished writing it and then COVID came around,” he said. “I gave it to Andy McCall, my assistant coach, and I hope that when the time is right, he will eventually read it to them.”

Estelle now spends his time on family projects and golf.

“My wife and I, we have a nice, old farmhouse and we are constantly working on it,” he said.

The pandemic has been a change for Estelle, especially now that he is not working.

“Like everyone else, we are finding our way through this very bizarre year,” he said. “I feel bad for my players that I’ve worked with for multiple years that have to go through this situation.”

Gamble still works part-time, mowing fairways for Southampton Country Club.

“I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” the Russell resident said. “The connections you make in my field are great and because of that, I have a retirement job that I really enjoy.”

Bonenfant said the application window for coaching positions closed on Wednesday. The season begins Sept. 18.




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